Starting a Business

Creating a Prototype Immediately and 4 More Business Tips From the Week

4 min read
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A roundup of the best tips of the week from

Great ideas are a dime a dozen. What sets success stories apart from pipe dreams is execution -- actually bringing a new invention to life and taking it to market. To ensure you don't get stuck merely dreaming up ideas, you should build a model, or prototype, of your invention early on. "Creating a prototype as quickly as possible can be just as important as coming up with the idea in the first place," says marketing and business-development expert Lewis Howes. "Prototyping allows you to see how your product operates in real life and if it really solves the problem or performs the function you think it will." More: 3 Ways to Find Your Next Brilliant Product Idea

Pat yourself on the back from time to time.
In the sometimes fast-paced, round-the-clock work life of an entrepreneur, it's easy to get discouraged and focus on what's not going right. This chips away at your confidence and clouds your vision. "Often, we're so focused on what we haven't done that we can't accurately see our progress," says Marci G. Fox, a psychotherapist and the author of Think Confident, Be Confident (Perigee Trade, 2009). Instead, to maintain a positive focus and boost your confidence, try writing down five accomplishments or five things you learned at the end of each day. "Give yourself credit for everything along the way," Fox says. "[Each step] gets you closer to the overall goal." More: How to Think Like a Confident Leader

Make branding about your customers' needs.
No matter how remarkable your product or service is, you should build your branding strategy around customers rather than your own ingenuity, says Mary Jo Cook, chief impact officer at Oakland, Calif.-based Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit with a widely recognized logo. Cook recommends shaping your brand around a customer problem that you can solve. Ask yourself what the problem is, and for whom you can solve it. "If you can't answer that question, you really won't be able to do too good a job at marketing," she says. More: Lessons From Fair Trade on How to Make Your Brand Message More Powerful

To protect your company's assets, start by listing them.
In the event of a car accident, a divorce or a personal lawsuit against you, a creditor may try to come after your business or other assets. The first step to protecting yourself is to make an itemized list of all your assets, says Mark Kohler, a partner in the law firm Kyler, Kohler, Ostermiller, & Sorensen LLP. There's no need to get your accountant involved. Simply write down all of your assets and the fair market value of each. This includes rental property, equipment, investments of various kinds and your residence. Then, make note of any debts related to these assets, such as mortgages and loans. Once you've finished your list, you will have a picture of what equity in each of your assets could be exposed in the event of a liability claim. Then you can consult with an attorney to develop an asset-protection strategy that meets your needs. More: How to Protect Your Business From Personal Legal Trouble

Surround yourself with "front stabbers.
Sometimes your brand needs a rethink, a facelift -- some kind of new approach or revamped identity to get you over whatever hurdle is keeping you from reaching your business goals. This is the time to assemble a team of "front stabbers," says Erika Napoletano, founder of RHW Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting business. As opposed to people who talk about you behind your back, Napoletano says "front stabbers -- experts, partners, customers or friends -- are brave enough to offer the straight-to-your-face, no-BS insights you need to set your brand right." When you're feeling lost in the woods, this trusted team of advisors will help you get your company onto the right path. More: What to Do If You Hate Your Brand

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